Archive for the ‘Lamentations 2’ Tag

Devotion for Proper 27, Year C (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  Saul and the Witch of Endor, by Benjamin West

Image in the Public Domain

Building Up Each Other in Christ

NOVEMBER 7, 2021


Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


1 Samuel 28:1-20 or Lamentations 2:1-13

Psalm 113

Romans 14:1-13, 17

Luke 18:9-14


You must not let what you think good be brought into disrepute; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but justice, peace, and joy, inspired by the Holy Spirit….Let us, then, pursue the things that make for peace and build up the common life.

–Romans 14:16-17, 19, The Revised English Bible (1989)


The context of Romans 14 is a communal one.  Food is a major topic.  Rather, what and how people think food–which food is acceptable to eat, for example–is a major topic.  Within that context, we read counsel to refrain from judging one another in faith community.  The cultural context of Romans 14 may not apply to one’s life, but the timeless principle does.

God commands us to care for and build up each other, especially the vulnerable, the poor, and the distressed.  If one keeps reading in 1 Samuel 28, one may notice that the necromancer/witch is concerned about King Saul, depressed.  The Law of Moses forbids exploiting people and teaches mutuality.  The theology of the Babylonian Exile is that consistent disregard for the Law of Moses led to the exile.  Psalm 113 tells us that God raises the poor from the dust and needs from the dunghill then seats him with princes.

When we turn to the Gospel lesson, we may ask ourselves which character we resemble more.  So we think more highly of ourselves than we should?  Are we so busy judging others that we do not see our true character?  Or do we know exactly what our character is and beg for divine mercy?  Conventional piety can function as a set of blinders.  Appearances can deceive.  Self-defense mechanisms that guard our egos can be difficult to break down.

God’s standards and categories are not identical to ours, despite some minor overlapping.  Many who think of themselves as insiders are really outsiders, and visa versa.  That should inspire us to be humble before God and to avoid looking down our noses at others.






Devotion for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday Before Proper 8, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Question Mark

Above:  A Question Mark

Image in the Public Domain

More Questions Than Answers

JUNE 24-26, 2021


The Collect:

Almighty and merciful God,

we implore you to hear the prayers of your people.

Be our strong defense against all harm and danger,

that we may live and grow in faith and hope,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 41


The Assigned Readings:

Lamentations 1:16-22 (Thursday)

Lamentations 2:1-12 (Friday)

Lamentations 2:18-22 (Saturday)

Psalm 30 (All Days)

2 Corinthians 7:2-16 (Thursday)

2 Corinthians 8:1-7 (Friday)

Luke 4:31-37 (Saturday)


Weeping may spend the night,

but joy comes in the morning.

While I felt secure I said,

“I shall never be disturbed.

You, LORD, with your favor, made me as strong as the mountains.”

Then You hid your face,

and I was filled with fear.

–Psalm 30:6-8, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)


The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition (1996) defines theodicy as

A vindication of God’s goodness and justice in the face of the existence of evil.

Defenses of divine goodness and justice also occur in the context of misfortune attributed to God’s judgment of sinful people.  It is present in the readings from Lamentations and in Psalm 30, for example.  The anonymous authors of Lamentations wept over sins, wrote bitterly that the foe had triumphed, and thought that God had acted as a foe.  Yet the book ends:

Take us back, O LORD, to Yourself,

And let us come back;

Renew our days as of old!

–Lamentations 5:22b, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

The titular character in the Book of Job says of God:

He may well slay me; I may have no hope;

Yet I will argue my case before Him.

In this too is my salvation:

That no impious man can come into His presence.

–Job 13:15-16, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Modern translations of the Bible, with some exceptions, depart from the King James rendering, which is:

Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him….,

which comes from a marginal note in the Masoretic Text.  Saying

I may have no hope

differs from uttering

yet I will trust in him,

at least superficially.  The first translation fits Job 13:15 better than does the second rendering, but pressing the lawsuit against God indicates some hope of victory.

But I know that my Vindicator lives;

In the end He will testify on earth–

This, after my skin will have been peeled off.

But I would behold God while still in my flesh.

I myself, not another, would behold Him;

Would see with my own eyes:

My heart pines within me.

–Job 19:25-27, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Job, in that passage, speaks of a divine hearing within his lifetime.  During that proceeding a defender (presumably not a relative, since his sons had died and his surviving kinsmen had abandoned him) will speak on his behalf.  The translation of this passage from The Jerusalem Bible gets more to the point, for it has an Avenger, not a Vindicator.  These rendering differ from the familiar King James text, which George Frederick Handel set to music in The Messiah (1742) as a reference to Jesus:

For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth….

We who claim to follow God ought to proceed carefully when defending God.  First, God does not require the defenses which mere mortals provide.  Second, many human defenses of God depict God erroneously, as either a warm fuzzy on one hand or a cosmic bully or thug on the other hand.  Often our attempts to justify God to ourselves and others obstruct a healthy relationship with God and dissuade others from following God.  We need to question inadequate God concepts.

The God of Luke 4:31-37, who, through Jesus, delivers people from illnesses allegedly caused by demonic possession is the same God who has blessings and woes just two chapters later (Luke 6:20-26).  This is the same God who encourages repentance–the act of turning around or changing one’s mind.  Apologizing for one’s sins is a fine thing to do, but repentance must follow it if one is to follow God.

I do not pretend to have worked out all or even most of the answers to difficult and uncomfortable questions regarding God and human-divine relationships.  No, I acknowledge that my doubts and unanswered questions in these realms outnumber my answers.  Furthermore, some of my answers are certainly wrong.  I am, however, comfortable with this reality.  I can repent of my errors, by grace, and progress spiritually.  Besides, knowledge is not the path to salvation, as in Gnosticism.  No, grace is the path to salvation.  God has the answers.  That is fine with me.  I remain inquisitive, however, for the journey itself has much merit.

I pray that my conduct of my spiritual journey will encourage others in their pilgrimages with God and prompt others to begin, not have a negative affect on anyone.









Devotion for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday after Proper 26, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Woe Unto You, Scribes and Pharisees James Tissot

Above:  Woe Unto You, Scribes and Pharisees, by James Tissot

Image in the Public Domain

Neglecting Human Needs in the Name of God

NOVEMBER 6-8, 2023


The Collect:

O God, generous and supreme, your loving Son lived among us,

instructing us in the ways of humility and justice.

Continue to ease our burdens, and lead us to serve alongside of him,

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 51


The Assigned Readings:

Jeremiah 5:18-31 (Monday)

Lamentations 2:13-17 (Tuesday)

Proverbs 16:21-33 (Wednesday)

Psalm 5 (All Days)

1 Thessalonians 2:13-20 (Monday)

Acts 13:1-12 (Tuesday)

Matthew 15:1-9 (Wednesday)


Braggarts cannot stand in your sight;

you hate all those who work wickedness.

You destroy those who speak lies;

the bloodthirsty and deceitful, O LORD, you abhor.

–Psalm 5:6-7, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)


The dominant theme of these days’ readings is that false prophets are bad people whom God will punish.  Related to that theme is another:  following false prophets leads to a bad end.  I have summarized that point, which the lessons state eloquently, so I will not dwell on it.  A side comment germane to the topic is that nobody who taught me in Sunday School when I was a child mentioned the story from Acts 13, in which St. Paul the Apostle blinds Elymas the sorcerer with only the power of words and the Holy Spirit.  I could have sworn also that Jesus said to love one’s enemies and that the Apostle wrote that people should overcome evil with good, so I have some unanswered questions about that story.  Maybe those in charge of my childhood Sunday School classes considered the tale too troublesome, assuming that they knew of it.  Many of my childhood Sunday School teachers seemed to know remarkably little about the Bible and much of what they did “know” was objectively wrong.  But I digress.

I choose to focus instead on Matthew 15:1-9.  Jesus chastises some Pharisees for obsessing over an extra-biblical point of ritual hand-washing–a matter of the theology of cleanliness and uncleanliness, of purity and impurity–while accepting gifts which should go instead to support the aging parents of the donors.  Donating wealth to the Temple for the support of professional religious people could be a pious act or a dodge of one’s obligation to honor one’s parents; motivation made all the difference.  Our Lord and Savior’s driving point remains relevant, for how we treat each other (especially within families) matters to God.  Related to that point is a second:  do not obsess about minor points and imagine that doing so makes one holy while one violates major points.

I, as an Episcopalian, embrace the Anglican Three-Legged Stool:  Scripture, tradition, and reason.  A better mental image is a tricycle, with Scripture as the big wheel.  My theology places tradition in a place of respect, where it belongs.  Thus I reject certain Protestant interpretations of Matthew 15:1-9 as a condemnation of all extra-biblical tradition.  My reasoning extends beyond the fact of my chosen denomination, for I understand that even those who criticize extra-biblical traditions of others for being extra-biblical have their own.  Such criticism reeks of hypocrisy.

No, I situate my criticism of those Pharisees where Jesus did:  neglecting human needs while providing theological cover for the practice.  Those who engage in such behaviors are truly false teachers who harm others.  And God is watching them.









Neglecting Human Needs in the Name of God


Week of Proper 7: Saturday, Year 2   1 comment

Above:  Jeremiah Lamenting Over the Destruction of Jerusalem, by Rembrandt van Rijn


JUNE 25, 2022


Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.


Lamentations 2:2, 10-19 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

The Lord has laid waste without pity

All the inhabitants of Jacob;

He has raised in His anger

Fair Judah’s strongholds.

He has brought low in dishonor

The kingdom and its leaders.

Silent sit on the ground

The elders of Fair Zion;

They have strewn dust on their heads

And girded themselves with sackcloth;

The maidens of Jerusalem have bowed

Their heads to the ground.

My eyes are spent with tears,

My heart is in tumult,

My being melts away

Over the ruin of my poor people,

As babes and sucklings languish

In the squares of the city.

They keep asking their mothers,

Where is bread and wine?

As they languish like battle-wounded

In the squares of the town,

As their life runs out

In their mothers’ bosoms.

What can I take as witness or liken

To you, O Fair Jerusalem?

What can I match with you to console you,

O Fair Maiden Zion?

For your ruin is vast as the sea;

Who can heal you?

Your seers prophesied to you

Delusion and folly.

They did not expose your iniquity

So as to restore your fortunes,

But prophesied to you oracles

Of delusion and deception.

All who pass your way

Clap their hands at you;

They hiss and wag their head

At Fair Jerusalem:

Is that the city that was called

Perfect in Beauty,

Joy of All the Earth?

All your enemies

Jeer at you;

They hiss and gnash their teeth,

And cry:

We’ve ruined her!

Ah, this is the day we hoped for;

We have lived to see it!

The LORD has done what He purposed,

Has carried out the decree

That he ordained long ago;

He has torn down without pity.

He has let the foe rejoice over you,

Has exalted the might of your enemies.

Their heart cried out to the Lord.

O wall of Fair Zion,

Shed tears like a torrent

Day and night!

Give yourself no respite,

Your eyes no rest.

Arise, cry out in the night

At the beginning of the watches,

Pour out your heart like water

In the presence of the Lord!

Lift up your hands to Him

For the life of your infants,

Who faint for hunger

At every street corner.

Psalm 74:1-8, 17-20 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  O God, why have you utterly cast us off?

why is your wrath so hot against the sheep of your pasture?

2  Remember your congregation that your purchased long ago,

the tribe you redeemed to be your inheritance,

and Mount Zion where you dwell.

3  Turn your steps toward the endless ruins;

the enemy has laid waste everything in your sanctuary.

4  Your adversaries roared in your holy place;

they set up their banners as tokens of victory.

5  They were like men coming up with axes to a grove of trees;

they broke down all your carved work with hatchets and hammers.

6  They set fire to your holy place;

they defiled the dwelling-place of your Name

and razed it to the ground.

7  They said to themselves, “Let us destroy them altogether.”

They burned down all the meeting-places of God in the land.

8  There are no signs for us to see;

there is no prophet left;

there is not one among us who knows how long.

17  Remember, O LORD, how the enemy scoffed,

how a foolish people despised your Name.

18  Do not hand over the life of your dove to wild beasts;

never forget the lives of your poor.

19  Look upon your covenant;

the dark places of the earth are haunts of violence.

20  Let not the oppressed turn away ashamed;

let the poor and needy praise your Name.

Matthew 8:5-17 (An American Translation):

When he [Jesus] got back to Capernaum, a Roman captain came up and appealed to him,

My servant, sir, is lying sick with paralysis at my house, in great distress.

He said to him,

I will come and cure him.

But the captain answered,

I am not a suitable person,sir, to have you come under my roof, but simply say the word, and my servant will be cured.  For I am myself under the orders of others and I have soldiers under me, and I tell one to go, and he comes, and my slave to do something, and he does it.

When Jesus heard this he was astonished, and said to his followers,

I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such faith as this.  And I tell you, many will come from the east and from the west and take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the Kingdom of of Heaven, while the heirs to the kingdom will be driven into the darkness outside, there to weep and grind their teeth!

Then Jesus said to the captain,

Go!  You shall find it just as you believe!

And the servant was immediately cured.

Jesus went into Peter’s house, and there he found Peter’s mother-in-law sick in bed with fever.  And he touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and waited on him.


The Collect:

O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving-kindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.


A Related Post:

Week of Proper 7:  Saturday, Year 1:


At this point I have been exploring much of 2 Kings.  Recently I have written of so many aspects of that text that I recognize many of them in Lamentations 2.  I have nothing new to say or write about them.  So I choose to be quite brief in my remarks for this post.  If you, O reader, are of such a mind, reread the preceding Monday-Saturday posts, beginning with “Week of Proper 5:  Monday, Year 2” (  Pay very close attention to the recurring sin of idolatry.

Other than that, read Lamentations (preferably all of it) aloud.  Most people who have experienced the Bible over time have done so orally; either they have read it aloud or someone has read it to them.  One approaches a text differently when one hears it than when one reads it silently off a page.  So read Lamentations aloud.  Let it wash over you and through you.  Listen to God speaking to you through it.

I also recommend listening to the Thomas Tallis settings of Lamentations.  In fact, I have been listening to YouTube recordings of those settings while typing this post.  Listen–really listen–to the music.  The words are Latin, but the English words are not hard to find; begin with Chapter 1, verse 1.  The music, from the 1500s, captures the essence of the biblical author’s grief.  You, O reader, might even choose to read the text aloud while playing the Tallis music.

May the peace of the Lord be with you today and always.